Yes, we knew the Joseph Rowntree Trust got this wrong

The Joseph Rowntree Trust made something of an error (and only the truly *ahem* cynical would call it a deliberate one) when they started to compile their Minimum Income Standard.

The basic idea, as I\’ve pointed out before, is just fine. Poverty is indeed defined by the society around you. As Adam Smith pointed out, not being able to afford a linen shirt is not an indicator of poverty. However, if you live in a society in which not being able to afford a linen shirt is an indicator of poverty and you live in that society and cannot afford a linen shirt then you, in that society, are regarded as poor.

So their listing of what people think you should be able to afford and do, in order not to be poor, is just fine.

The error was that they made their number the pre tax number. So the £14,400 for this year is what you need before you have £2,500 or so taken off you in tax and NI. Now if you know this, no problem, for you can then point out, as I continually do, that the best way to aid the working poor is to stop damn taxing them.

But if you forget this (deliberately or not) then you fall into error, as Sunny has just done.

For he is comparing the pre-tax income required not to be in poverty with the post tax income received by those on various benefits.


And yes, Don\’s got a fair \”gotcha\” in the comments.

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